Newcastle, 12 June 1999
This from LEAF via EF! action update:
PUBLIC ACCLAIM FOR RECLAIM THE STREETS
Earlier this summer Leicester based activists reclaimed their streets with a huge community party. Despite a police helicopter scouring the area early on, and vans full of party saboteurs loitering with intent to be miserable, campaigners successfully set up three tripods at the location and were joined by a critical mass and the main group. Four hours of asphalt partying were followed by a celebratory parade to an open air space where everyone danced until midnight.
The local newspaper, which has a huge circulation, had a mixed news article the following week with the headline "Car-culture protest 'irresponsible'" claiming a risk to public safety and potential problems for emergency access. But the photos clearly showed the street party atmosphere: sofas, carpets, a paddling pool, and dancing in the street with happy crowds thronging the road.
The local rag has a regular 'Driving Force' motoring section but as there is also public sympathy with anti-car protest they allowed Leicester RTS people to write a 500 word piece about Reclaiming the Streets and cities for people which was published virtually unedited. They pointed out that the protest was illegal as campaigners didn't notify the police beforehand, and initiated a phone vote on the issue: 'Were Reclaim the Streets protesters right - Yes or No ?' - and encouraged letters. Spot interviews in the street showed full support except for one woman who said therfic but that blocking the street is the wrong way to make a point. And the result of the phone vote was: Yes 66% and No 34%. We won! And the debate is still going on in the letters page.